- By Native News Online Staff
In late February, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes will host over 150 Native college students in El Reno, Oklahoma for a weekend conference discussing Jesus and culture. Among the questions students will consider: Would Jesus eat frybread?
At the annual Would Jesus Eat Frybread (WJEF?) conference, students from across Turtle Island and Pasifika will hear from Indigenous speakers, talk with other Native college students, and share songs, dances, stories and traditional foods from their own cultures.
Ceidric Platero (Diné) attended his first WJEF? in 2016. “Before going to WJEF?, I thought that running from my culture was what Jesus asked me to do,” Platero shared about his 2016 experience in a statement. “What I found at this conference, besides warm hugs and good food, was an invitation from Jesus to not see my culture as a shameful background of my Christian life, but to see my culture as a blessing and [an] important part of who Creator God made me to be.”
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Campus ministries Nations and Native InterVarsity have sponsored the conference since it began in 2012. They acknowledge Christianity can be a triggering topic for Native people, and they approach these conversations with kindness and good relations, under the belief that Indigenous people can find beauty and harmony in honoring both Jesus and Native culture.
Platero said the conference creates space to talk about narratives and cycles of shame, grieve historical trauma, make new friends, and heal together—“for generations passed and generations to come.”
WJEF22 will take place February 18 to 20. Featured speakers include Cheyenne elder and honored professor Dr. Henrietta Mann, Cheyenne and Arapaho motivational speaker Christian Wassana, and creator of the First Nations Version New Testament Terry Wildman (Ojibwe/Yaqui). Music will be provided by Jonathan Maracle (Mohawk).
Registration is now open on the conference website: wjef.org.
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